Total Obliteration: The Grim Reality Of A Black Hole Appearing Close To The Earth

Marcus Lowth
Published Date
March 14, 2024
Estimated Reading Time
12 min read
Posted in
Space, The Universe

It is a safe bet that the vast majority of people will have heard of a black hole. And, it is an equally safe assumption that there will be several different theories as to what might happen if a person, a spacecraft, or even a planet entered one – ranging from traveling back or forward in time, traveling instantly to another part of the universe, or even traveling to another dimension. Based on our current understanding of space and the universe, however, the reality would almost certainly be far different, and much more ominous.

The fact is, however unlikely it might be, the appearance of a black hole in our solar system – one that was seemingly on a deadly collision course with our planet – could prove to be the end of humanity, and indeed, of the planet itself, which would very likely be reduced to nothing more than a condensed particle-like state – essentially, an infinite nothingness.

What’s more, as we shall examine, this bleak journey would take place at a breakneck pace, with those on Earth who survived the initial consequences of this deadly approach witnessing all manner of Biblical-like catastrophes and atmospheric phenomena. Indeed, it would be a journey that would be both mind-blowing and deadly.

Despite this bleak, if likely outlook should we find a black hole hurtling in our direction, tearing the solar system apart as it did so, there is, as we shall explore briefly later, another possibility, one equally mind-blowing and certainly not deadly. First, though, before we take ourselves on this thought-provoking if unsettling speculative journey, we will turn our attention to these monstrous cosmic phenomena.

What Is A Black Hole?

So, what actually is a black hole? At its most basic, when a star exhausts its fuel supply it results in a massive supernova explosion that flings matter into space and leaves behind a dense, stellar core. [1] This core eventually collapses under the weight of its own gravity creating what we call a black hole. And this gravity is so incredibly strong that nothing can escape it, not even light. It is estimated that there are around 50 black holes in the Milky Way (our galaxy) alone [2] and around 40 quintillion in the entire Universe. [3]

Although what we know is changing all the time, there are three widely agreed upon types of black holes – stellar black holes, intermediate black holes, and supermassive black holes, as well as the possible existence of miniature or micro black holes, thought to be much smaller and with a much shorter life span (although many believe that while these may have existed billions of years ago, perhaps longer, they cannot form today). [4]

Stellar black holes, generally speaking, have a mass that is anywhere up to ten times the mass of the Sun, while intermediate black holes have a much higher mass, although little is known about them and they are still very much under study by scientists. They do, though, have a lower mass than supermassive black holes, which have a mass of millions and even billions greater than the sun. What’s more, these supermassive black holes reside at the center of most galaxies, including our own. It is believed these supermassive black holes grow in size by accumulating layers of matter (something called accretion) and perhaps even swallowing moons or even planets. Again, these black holes are still very much under investigation.

Unlikely, But Not Impossible!

Although it was originally thought that black holes remained in their respective places in the Universe, it is now known that they do move through space [5] and what’s more, they could be traveling as fast as 17,500 miles per second which, if accurate, would “reveal new laws of physics”. [6] With this in mind, then, suddenly the idea that a black hole could suddenly appear in our skies as it heads straight for us is not that much a stretch of the imagination, however unlikely such a scenario might be.

Unlikely or not, just what would happen if a black hole did appear on the far reaches of our solar system and it was discovered it was on a cosmic collision course with Earth? A black hole that was not only heading toward our planet but was enveloping moons and planets as it did so, growing in strength and size as a consequence.

From Detection To The End In As Little As 24 Hours In A “Worst-Case Scenario”

It is widely agreed that it is just about impossible for the Earth to fall into a black hole simply because they appear to be so far away. [7] However, as we have already mentioned, scientists are learning more about black holes all the time, not least the realization that they do, in fact, move. So, we will explore an absolute worst-case scenario – one that would not only see a black hole appear in our solar system but would see it move through the planets at a blistering pace.

To begin with, our speculative black hole would go largely undetected, although astronomers would perhaps pick up on gravitational anomalies on celestial objects in the far reaches of the solar system. Eventually, we would expect that these anomalies would alert scientists to the presence of something strange and potentially ominous. At this point, highly advanced and technologically sophisticated telescopes and detection equipment would be pointed toward the region where these distortions were coming from. We would imagine a short time after, the black hole would be confirmed, and an international alert would be put out.

Just to appreciate how fast this worst-case scenario black hole was approaching, from this point – when scientists had first confirmed its presence – there would be only 24 hours before the Earth passed over its Event Horizon – the point past which there is no return. Even at this point, although the black hole itself would not be visible to us on Earth, we would already be able to feel its presence.

The First Visible Signs Of Something Approaching

Perhaps one of the first things that would be a sign that something out of the ordinary and potentially sinister was taking place would be a sudden rise in temperatures. [8] And what’s more, not only would the temperature rise quickly, it would rise to an exceptionally high level. As an example, if this black hole appeared at Christmas time, places such as New York, which would normally be hovering around freezing, would be experiencing weather more akin to the Mediterranean or even parts of Africa.

The reasons for this is quite simply because the strength of the black hole would push the Earth closer to the sun as it approached – and it would do so at a rapid pace. As well as the increase in temperature, many other environmental catastrophes and disasters would begin occurring.

A short time later, the first visible signs of the black hole’s presence would present themselves to the planet’s population as gravitational lensing occurred. This is when the gravitational field of a behemoth-like object bends light as it travels through space. [9] This is when a huge celestial object – in this case, our black hole – causes a literal curvature of space causing the light to go around it. Consequently, objects will appear distorted or elongated, and some objects might even appear duplicated. And this would not only be visible, it would be clearly noticeable to us on Earth.

Even stranger, those people looking up at the night sky would see a large, round black space, almost as if a large hole had suddenly appeared in space. And this circle would increase in size as the black hole continued its approach. And the closer it got, the more consequences would be felt here on Earth.

Visible Destruction In The Skies

It wouldn’t be long before the gravitational force of the black hole began to have more profound effects, including altering the course of planets, putting moons out of orbit, and sending any other meteors and space debris off in all directions screaming through the Universe. And as the hours passed, these disruptions would become increasingly violent and noticeable. And as this was happening, the tides on Earth would begin to become chaotic and deadly, while earthquakes would begin happening at random times all over the planet.

Meanwhile, many of the meteors and asteroids, particularly those in the asteroid belt between Jupiter and Mars, would begin to crash into other planets and moons, with some inevitably colliding with our own moon. And when this happened, it would be clearly visible to those looking up at the night sky on Earth. And rather than being an explosive collision that would be over in seconds, the visible display would play over the course of around 30 minutes.

Those on Earth would see a (relatively speaking) slow approach of huge rock – almost like a small moon itself. Upon collision, a blinding explosive flash of light would be seen that would light up the sky, almost playing out in slow motion. Of even more concern, a short time after this collision, pieces of the moon would begin to head towards Earth, leaving fiery trails behind them as they did so. And when they impacted the planet, all manner of chaos and catastrophes would unfold. And what’s more, they would now be constant as the planet would now be only 12 hours away from crossing the black hole’s Event Horizon.

A Constant State Of Chaos

Where these asteroids from the moon impacted on Earth would be completely destroyed, with the fallout of them reaching afar and the shockwaves from the impact being felt for miles around. In fact, the impact would be similar to the destruction unleashed following the dropping of the atomic bombs over Nagasaki and Hiroshima in Japan which caused Japan to surrender and, ultimately, ended the Second World War.

What would make these impacts even deadlier, at least to those in the surrounding areas of the impact zone, is that they would happen in complete silence. In fact, initially, the only sign that anything had occurred would be a brief glow of the impact. For those who did not witness this glow, the first they would know of anything happening would be a wave of suddenly appearing debris that would surge through the surrounding areas. And as they would have had no chance to even attempt to shelter from this debris blast, they would almost certainly not survive it.

By now, the entire planet would be in complete chaos, and this chaos would not let up even for a moment. Satellites orbiting the Earth would also be affected, causing radio and transmission communications to falter. What’s more, this would also lead to disturbances and ultimate failure in navigational equipment. Ultimately, multiple industries would come to an abrupt halt. Even worse, any trains or even planes that were still traveling during this time would likely come to a crashing and deadly end. What’s more, emergency response services would be severely hampered by a lack of communication, not to mention that much of the electricity supplies would likely be affected meaning hospitals would essentially shut down.

Cosmic Light Shows And Deadly Gravitational Consequences

Over the following hours those still looking upward would very likely see asteroids and perhaps even small moons being quite literally torn apart due to the gravitational pull of the approaching black hole. Indeed, the heavens would now have the appearance of a cross between a cosmic firework display and an aerial warzone, with multiple phenomena taking place at once, ranging from huge surges of gaseous energy to exploding light shows.

Some of these phenomena would be witnessed close-up here on Earth, perhaps one of the most likely would be something known as photosphere, a metaphoric description of the effects here on Earth of the gravitational forces of the black hole as it approached the planet. In its most basic form, photosphere occurs when the intense pull of the black hole on Earth causes light to move in circular motions instead of linear ones. It would be very likely that people standing on the ground would, for brief moments, be able to see the back of their heads due to this circular motion of light.

At this point, the sky itself would glow a mix of bright green and red due to the gravitational and atmospheric disturbances to the planet from the black hole. This light display would be short-lived, however, as the glowing skies would suddenly give way to immense darkness as the Earth, now very much in the grip of this cosmic monster, got ever closer to the point of no return, the Event Horizon. The only thing visible in the sky would be a small circular cluster of stars. And this circle would grow increasingly smaller and would appear to those on Earth as if they were lights at the end of a long tunnel, which in many ways, they would be.

Meanwhile, earthquakes, tsunamis, and volcanic eruptions would quite literally begin tearing the Earth apart, as the gravitational pull of the black hole would become even stronger and more unpredictable.

Around this point, the planet would enter the Event Horizon. Even the most positive-minded scientist, astronomer, or military and political leaders would no that the planet was now on a countdown to entire annihilation.

The Point Of No Return

The moments following this crossing the Event Horizon, at least for the general population, might give rise to false hope as the skies would suddenly become light once more, perhaps leading some to believe they had survived this cosmic event. However, in reality, this light would merely be the light that had become trapped in the black hole – and it wouldn’t last.

Soon, the darkness would return, and the planet would quite literally begin to be torn apart, even becoming elongated and stretched as it was pulled toward the center of the black hole, a process referred to as spaghettification. [10] This center point of the black hole – known as the Singularity – would begin exerting indescribable forces and gravitational pulls on the planet, ultimately, destroying it into a condensed nothingness.

Perhaps the best way to imagine this process (after all, we don’t know for certain what would actually happen – something we will come back to shortly) would be to imagine this center point is a huge and powerful extractor fan sucking everything towards it. Everything from the atmosphere to the oceans and seas, to the ground itself, would be sent hurtling towards it, completely destroying everything as it did so, rendering the planet and everything on it to nothing but fundamental particles, almost like a Big Bang in reverse.

Ultimately, the Earth would completely cease to exist, at least how we know it. Whether there is an “other side” where the basic materials of the planet reassemble and form another cosmic body somewhere else in the universe remains unknown. Indeed, it appears the more we learn about black holes and the Universe, in general, the more questions we find ourselves asking.

Another More Favorable Possibility?

Of course, that is what we THINK would happen. There is always the chance, however unlikely, that entering a black hole won’t result in the complete obliteration of Earth and might lead to another reality altogether. And with that in mind, we will turn our attention briefly to the work and theories of Albert Einstein, which just might suggest these black holes could serve as gateways or portals that could lead to another dimension or even a parallel universe.

Specifically, we need to examine Einstein’s theories of relatively – his theory of special relativity, published in 1905, and his theory of general relativity, published a decade later in 1915. His theory of special relativity resulted in the famous equation, E=mc², meaning that the laws of physics are the same for everyone, providing all are moving at the same constant speed relative to each other.

General relativity, on the other hand, suggested that the presence of energy in space could physically curve spacetime, and so altering the paths of cosmic objects. In relation to black holes, according to general relativity, it could be possible that the singularity of the black hole curve spacetime in such a way, that it creates a shortcut to another part of the universe, or perhaps to another universe entirely. It, essentially, acts as a wormhole or gateway, through which the object – or planet – passes through and then emerges on the “other side” in a different part of the universe.

If we imagine a piece of paper with a hole pierced at the top and bottom. These holes represent different and vastly separated parts of the universe. The presence of a black hole could, in theory, bend space-time, or the paper, causing the two holes to match up and exist in the same place at the same time. If we then take a pencil – which will act as the Earth – and push it through the hole, we simulate the planet passing from its current location to one that was previously a vast amount of distance away. When the paper is unfolded, the two points return to the distant locations. This could be how black holes work, at least in theory.

An Unlikely But Not Impossible Scenario

As we can see, then, should a black hole ever appear or head toward our planet, the end result would very likely not be a good one. However, we also know that this speculative end-of-the-world scenario is simply an educated guess. Ultimately, the only way we would even know what happens if we entered a black hole is by entering one. Perhaps one day in the future, if we manage to conquer space travel, we might send a probe or even a manned mission inside a black hole. Of course, if we accept the theories that black holes are wormholes to other locations in the Universe, then we may need to utilize black holes to travel the vast reaches of space, meaning, in terms of space travel, we would be in a cosmic catch-22.

If there is any accuracy to black holes acting as wormholes or gateways, perhaps our further understanding of them could lead us to be able to create and manipulate a controlled version of a black hole that would allow humans to traverse the stars and reach into the vast beyond of the Universe. Of course, that is purely rampant speculation, and most likely many centuries into the future, if ever. It is certainly an interesting notion, though.

Indeed, we might argue that should a black hole appear in our skies and begin a potentially deadly approach towards us, then it could be that our only hope of survival is that Einstein’s theories are closer to the mark than not and that we find ourselves, very much intact and somewhere else in the universe, or in a different realm entirely. If not, the outcome for us would be far from good.

The short video below examines black holes a little further.


1 Black Holes, explained, Maya Wei-Haas, National Geographic
2 Types of Black Holes, NASA
3 There are 40 quintillion black holes in our Universe, Big Think
4 Tiny Black Holes, Charles Keeton and Arlie Petters, PBS NOVA
5 Simulations suggest some black holes could be moving at nearly one-tenth the speed of light, Bob Yirka, Phys.Org
6 Black holes can speed through the universe at 17,500 miles per second, scientists say – and the discovery could reveal new laws of physics, Sonam Sheth and Morgan McFall-Johnsen, Business Insider
7 Will Earth Ever Get Pulled Into a Black Hole?, Newsweek
8 What will happen when a black hole hits Earth?, Big Think
9 Gravitational Lensing, ESA Hubble
10 What Happens To Us If Earth Falls Into A Black Hole, Keving Pimbblet, Discover

Marcus Lowth

Marcus Lowth is a writer with a love for UFOs, aliens, and the Ancient Astronaut Theory, to the paranormal, general conspiracies, and unsolved mysteries. He has been writing and researching with over 20 years of experience.

Marcus has been Editor-in-Chief for several years due to his excellent knowledge in these fields. Marcus also regularly appears as an expert on radio talk shows including Troubled Minds and Unexplained Radio discussing these topics.

Read Marcus' full bio.

You can contact Marcus via email.

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